Drunk driver sentenced after 65mph police chase around Rugby

Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits
Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits

A drunk driver who led the police on a chase through Rugby at speeds of up to 65mph along residential streets was finally caught after crashing into another car.

Luckily no-one was hurt in the crash, and Carl Lopeman escaped being jailed when he appeared at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and excess alcohol.

Lopeman, 29, of Tower Lodge, Bilton Road, Rugby, was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months, with an electronically-tagged curfew from 9pm to 6am for three months and 12 months supervision.

He was also banned from driving for 15 months and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and to pay a £180 court charge.

Prosecutor Paul Dhami said that at just after midnight on May 10 this year police officers saw a car taking the roundabout at the junction of Murray Road and Clifton Road too fast.

As they began to follow him Lopeman sped away, so they put on their blue light to try to get him to stop.

But driving at high speed, Lopeman took a series of turns along residential streets, hitting several kerbs and going over speed bumps at up to 54mph, in a bid to get away from them.

He then sped along Evreux Way and into Oliver Street where his speed reached 65mph in the residential area before he turned into Stephen Street.

But when he then tried to make a left turn into Rowland Street he collided with an oncoming vehicle.

Lopeman tried to reverse away, but the police car was right behind him, blocking him in, so he got out and walked towards it with his arms up.

He was arrested and on the way to the police station he apologised and accepted he should have pulled over when the officers had first tried to stop him.

Lopeman, who was just over twice the legal alcohol limit, said: “I knew I was drunk and I’d be arrested for drink-driving, but I thought I’d chance my luck.”

He explained that he had been at a wedding reception with his partner, but they had argued and he had decided to drive the two miles home.

Mr Dhami added that Lopeman had been before courts on 16 previous occasions for offences including excess alcohol and aggravated vehicle taking.

David Everett, defending, said: “He did not go out deliberately to drive that night. He and his partner went to a barbeque and then on to a wedding, and the intention was that she would drive.

“But they had an argument, and he had been drinking and he got into the car and drove off.

“There was not a lot of other traffic around, and no injuries were caused as a result of this matter.

“He apologised to the lady in the other vehicle and provided her with his insurance details.”

Mr Everett said Lopeman, whose partner is pregnant, works as a forklift truck driver, and argued that he could be dealt with by a suspended sentence.

Recorder Roger Evans said he was concerned that Lopeman’s convictions included 20 for breaches of earlier orders, for which he had been treated ‘with remarkable leniency.’

But imposing the suspended sentence, Recorder Evans told him: “You have been monumentally stupid. This was really, really stupid behaviour on your part.”